November 27, 2003
Opening address at a meeting with history scholars
President Vladimir Putin:
We met with colleagues, in Siberia and the North West, and we agreed to
continue these contacts. I think it will be right if we once again
congratulate the Russian National Library on its 175th anniversary. We wish
the employees, all readers, and everyone who loves this library success and
all the best, work success and personal happiness. They do many useful
things, fulfil the unique role of keepers of the memory of our people, and
without any exaggeration, of all of mankind, and do a great deal to ensure
that this library not only continues to exist, and does not only keep what
it already has, but ensure that it is a living organism, which develops and
works in new formats. And they are successful in doing this.
But I would also like to talk directly about the problems that you deal
with professionally. I repeat, at various times and in various places we
have already had the opportunity to talks about this. Today, I would ask
you to direct your attention to two main themes.
The first is preserving our archaeological legacy. When we were in Staraya
Ladoga, colleagues talked to me about the problem of poor preservation and
maintenance of the legacy that we have, about the poor work of appropriate
controlling and law-enforcements bodies, and those who should protect the
relics of culture and antiquity.
Let us return to this theme once more. I will hear your recommendations
with pleasure, and try to realize them.
And secondly - I would like to direct your attention to this, and people
often direct their attention to this who are concerned about the history of
our country - historical literature, above all, history textbooks.
Quite recently, if you noticed, I was at a meeting at the Ministry of
Defence and met with veterans there. They once more raised the issue of
history textbooks. Of course, it is good that we have a large diversity of
literature of this kind. I think that we can be glad that we have left
behind the single-party and single ideological interpretation of the
history of our country. This is of course a major achievement, but I think
you will agree that we should not go to the other extreme. Modern
textbooks, especially textbooks for schools and institutes of higher
educations should not become a platform for a new political and ideological
struggle. These textbooks should really present historical facts; they
should inspire, especially among young people, a feeling of pride for their
own history, and for their country. I would not considerate it correct to
take up a great deal of our meeting with monologues, and I would be pleased
to hear what you have to say.
Russia May Revoke Approval of Textbook
November 28, 2003
MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's Education Ministry is debating whether to withdraw
approval for a history textbook that implies freedom has been curtailed
under President Vladimir Putin, news reports said Thursday.
A panel of experts at the ministry is analyzing author Igor Dolutsky's high
school textbook on 20th century Russian history and may decide to revoke
its seal of approval, the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Education
Minister Viktor Bolotov as saying.
Withdrawal of the ministry's seal would mean the book - ``20th Century
History of the Fatherland'' - could no longer be used in classes as an
official textbook, though teachers could still assign students to read it.
Dolutsky told the radio station Echo of Moscow that Education Minister
Vladimir Filippov was angered by an exercise in the book in which students
are asked to write passages supporting or attempting to refute statements.
According to Echo of Moscow, Dolutsky said the exercise includes a
statement from a historian who said a coup took place after Putin's 2000
election, and another from liberal lawmaker Grigory Yavlinsky, who is
quoted as saying a police state took shape in Russia in 2001.
Bolotov said the textbook ``gives the impression that in the history of
Russia there has not been a single bright moment, that there has been
nothing good,'' according to Interfax.
The media reports about the textbook came on a day during which Putin met
with historians at the Russian State Library and said that history
textbooks ``should set out the facts of history (and) should foster a
feeling of pride for the history of one's country.''
Putin said it was good that the days when a single Marxist ideology was
forced on students are over. But he added, ``it is impermissible to fall
into the other extreme - school and higher education textbooks must not
become an arena for ideological and political battles.''
As president, Putin has celebrated Russia and its history, stressing its
greatness. Critics say he has been intolerant of criticism and that freedom
of speech and the media have suffered during his term.